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Pam Bondi asks Fla. Supreme Court to review Smart Solar amendment

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday formally asked the Florida Supreme Court to review a proposed constitutional amendment on solar power, one of two competing initiatives on the subject.

The utility-backed Consumers for Smart Solar is sponsoring the amendment titled “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice.”

Bondi is bound as part of the constitutional amendment process to petition the Supreme Court for “a written opinion as to the validity” of the initiative.

The court has to OK a proposal’s language and ballot summary before it can go before voters. Bondi’s request did not signal whether she supported or opposed the amendment.

An amendment also needs 683,149 signatures to get on the ballot, then must capture 60 percent of the vote to be added to the state constitution.

The language in question currently has 247,224 valid signatures, according to the state Division of Elections.

Its competitor, sponsored by Floridians for Solar Choice, a coalition of progressive and conservative interests, reported 230,763 signatures as of this week.

Its language aims at lifting “barriers to supplying local solar electricity,” which opponents – including Bondi – have taken as allowing out-of-state concerns to operate without regulation.

Consumers for Smart Solar also has called into question a new monthly fee the competing amendment would create. Floridians for Solar Choice attorney Bob Nabors has described a “standby charge” that would be “uniformly applied.”

The amendment sponsored by Consumers for Smart Solar “ensure(s) that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.”

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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